Fragments of Diogenes of Apollonia

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Fragments of Diogenes of Apollonia

The work of Diogenes seems to have been preserved in the Academy; practically all the fairly extensive fragments which we still have are derived from Simplicius. I give them as they are arranged by Diels:

(1) In the beginning any discourse, it seems to me that one should make one's starting-point something indisputable, and one's expression simple and dignified. R. P. 207.

(2) My view is, to sum it all up, that all things are differentiations of the same thing, and are the same thing. And this is obvious; for, if the things which are now in this world—earth, and water, and air and fire, and the other things which we see existing in this world—if any one of these things, I say, were different from any other, different, that is, by having a substance peculiar to itself; and if it were not the same thing that is often changed and differentiated, then things could not in any way mix with one another, nor could they do one another good or harm. Neither could a plant grow out of the earth, nor any animal nor anything else come into being unless things were composed in such a way as to be the same. But all these things arise from the same thing; they are differentiated and take different forms at different times, and return again to the same thing. R. P. 208.

(3) For it would not be possible for it without intelligence to be so divided, as to keep the measures of all things, of winter and summer, of day and night, of rains and winds and fair weather. And any one who cares to reflect will find that everything else is disposed in the best possible manner. R. P. 210.

(4) And, further, there are still the following great proofs. Men and all other animals live upon air by breathing it, and this is their soul and their intelligence, as will be clearly shown in this work; while, when this is taken away, they die, and their intelligence fails. R. P. 210.

(5) And my view is, that that which has intelligence is what men call air, and that all things have their course steered by it, and that it has power over all things. For this very thing I hold to be a god,[1] and to reach everywhere, and to dispose everything, and to be in everything; and there is not anything which does not partake in it. Yet no single thing partakes in it just in the same way as another; but there are many modes both of air and of intelligence. For it undergoes many transformations, warmer and colder, drier and moister, more stable and in swifter motion, and it has many other differentiations in it, and an infinite number of colours and savours. And the soul of all living things is the same, namely, air warmer than that outside us and in which we are, but much colder than that near the sun. And this warmth is not alike in any two kinds of living creatures, nor, for the matter of that, in any two men; but it does not differ much, only so far as is compatible with their being alike. At the same time, it is not possible for any of the things which are differentiated to be exactly like one another till they all once more become the same.

(6) Since, then, differentiation is multiform, living creatures are multiform and many, and they are like one another neither in appearance nor in intelligence, because of the multitude of differentiations. At the same time, they all live, and see, and hear by the same thing, and they all have their intelligence from the same source. R. P. 211.

(7) And this itself is an eternal and undying body, but of those things[2] some come into being and some pass away.

(8) But this, too, appears to me to be obvious, that it is both great, and mighty, and eternal, and undying, and of great knowledge. R. P. 209.


  1. The MSS. of Simplicius have ἔθος, not θεός; but I adopt Usener's certain correction. It is confirmed by the statement of Theophrastos that Diogenes called the air within us "a small portion of the god " (de. Sens. 42); and by Philodemos (Dox. p. 536), where we read that Diogenes praises Homer, τὸν ἀέρα γὰρ αὐτὸν Δία νομίζειν φησίν, ἐπειδὴ πᾶν εἰδέναι τὸν Δία λέγει (cf. Cic. Nat. D. i. 12, 29).
  2. The MSS. of Simplicius have τῷ δέ, but surely the Aldine τῶν δέ is right.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.

The author died in 1928, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.